Tina Fey plays sexual harasser in 'Great News' episode, days after Harvey Weinstein news

Friday, 13 October 2017, 08:21:49 PM. Harvey Weinstein isn't named, but producers Tracey Wigfield and Tina Fey worked on '30 Rock' episode referencing Weinstein and unwanted advances.

There’s nothing funny about the Harvey Weinstein story, but NBC comedy Great News has a timely episode that offers some laughs while making strong points about sexual harassment.

The timing (Thursday, 9:30 ET/PT) is coincidental, and the episode, written last summer, doesn't reference Weinstein, who was fired from his prestigious film production company Sunday after news reports alleging he sexually harassed or assaulted young actresses over three decades.

(After allegations in The New Yorker, Weinstein issued a statement  "unequivocally" denying any allegations of "non-consensual sex.")

But Great News executive producers Tracey Wigfield and Tina Fey also worked on a 2012 episode of NBC's 30 Rock in which Jane Krakowski’s Jenna says: “I’m not afraid of anyone in show business. I turned down intercourse with Harvey Weinstein on no less than three occasions ... out of five.”

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The 'Great News' news team tries to catch the boss in the act of harassing on Thursday's episode, 'Honeypot!' (Photo: Tyler Golden, NBC)

"We weren't trying to hint at any secrets we knew about him," Wigfield says of the 30 Rock reference. "I think we were just making a joke based on his reputation."  

Thursday's episode was inspired by news stories of workplace harassment, especially in the news business, she says.

"There seems to be a new story about a man in power committing sexual abuse every couple weeks now," Wigfield says. "I think these stories coming out are a good thing. It means people aren't just getting away with it anymore."

News, which centers on the staff of a cable-news show, flips the usual pattern, making Fey’s network executive, Diana St. Tropez, the perpetrator. The gender switch highlights the ridiculousness of victim blaming.

"Nobody would ever accuse a male victim of 'asking for it' for being in a female superior's office late at night or wearing shoes that were too provocative," says Wigfield, who also plays meteorologist Beth on News. "We also wanted to show that harassment in the workplace is as much about power as it is about gender."

The episode also raises a serious issue at the forefront of the Weinstein story: complicity. Rising young producer Katie Wendelson (Briga Heelan) has to decide whether keeping quiet about Diana’s behavior is the price of her promotion.

Although Weinstein isn’t mentioned, other media power players accused of sexual harassment, including former Fox News titans Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, are name-checked. Both were forced out after complaints and financial settlements were revealed.

Bill Cosby, accused by dozens of women and due to be tried again on sexual assault charges after a jury couldn’t reach a verdict, gets a shout-out, too.

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Wayne (Sheaun McKinney) has to dance for his harassing boss on Thursday's episode of 'Great News.' (Photo: Greg Gayne, NBC)

When an abused newsroom colleague asks how many more men have to come forward before they’re believed, Katie responds, “In the words of the Cosby jurors, ‘Duh, I don’t know. More than 60?’ ” 

There's also an indirect reference to Donald Trump. 

At one point, Diana excuses her actions, explaining: “I may have made a few off-color comments, but that’s just locker-room talk,” a reference to the then-presidential candidate's defense when Access Hollywood's “grab ‘em” recording was released in October 2016.

The story ends with a pointed twist about harassers who are forced from jobs but leave with lucrative payouts.

Wigfield says News took care in handling such a serious topic on a comedy show.

"I would never want to go too far for a joke and hurt someone who had been through a traumatic situation, so we tried to make sure the comedy only came at the expense of perpetrators and people who don't believe victims," she says.

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Article Tina Fey plays sexual harasser in 'Great News' episode, days after Harvey Weinstein news compiled by www.azcentral.com